This is probably the first psalm that I recited as a kid. At 8 years old, I learned the whole of it at Camp Winnataska one summer in Alabama. Each camper was instructed to bring a Bible. Mine was one of the now old picture book Bibles in the King James Version.
What’s amazing to me is how well children can memorize scripture then have it stick with them for a lifetime! So many of the scriptures that come to my mind today were planted there when I was a child. I see it, too, when working with pre-schoolers in chapel programs or church school … their eagerness to acquire faith and their openness to learn the Bible stories and verses is astounding!
I’m sure there are biological and social reasons why we don’t have the eagerness and ability to plant the seed in our hearts as we grow older. The soil of the soul grows fallow with the passing of years, the mind loses its edge, and the Word of God faces much resistance and many distractions.
The ability of a child to learn and to grow in faith is something I never want to lose with the passing of time! “The Lord is my shepherd” has no less meaning, but in fact more, as I have come to realize how much I need a strong hand in the course of my journey through life!
This beloved psalm has brought comfort to the dying, to the bereaved, to the lonely, to the fearful, to the warrior in fields of battle, to the bedside of a child after a distressing day at school … in countless ways, this psalm, attributed to King David, the “shepherd king”, has proved timeless in its power. Surely, the Shepherd of souls inspired and guided the writing of this mighty work to give a glimpse of God’s great love for people throughout the ages!
I post it here in the King James Version since that’s the one we are most likely to know. Let’s read it as a journey through life and receive the gift of God’s presence, right now …
Psalm 23 (A Psalm of David)
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.